A tended landscape


People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. (James Baldwin)

I'd have to say this is pretty accurate about most of us - our history actually 'traps us' and we are bound to it like super-glue to our fingers. All of us have a 'history'. All of us has had to deal with that 'history' or else we bury it deeper and deeper because it was too hard to deal with. Regardless of buried or 'dealt with', the history remains - it happened - it left a mark of sorts. On occasion I am haunted by some of the things I have done, said, or thought - in my distant past, but still coming up in my memory from time to time. It isn't that these things aren't under the grace of Jesus - sins confessed, dealt with, and moved on from. It is that our memory has a way of being used as a 'weapon' against us during some of our weakest moments. Maybe this is why God emphasizes us bringing EVERY thought captive - because the battle begins in the mind! If we allow those 'past events' to cloud our present, even when under the grace of Jesus, we are allowing things into our present that have absolutely NO right being there. It will lead to frustration, despair, hopelessness, and sometimes even anger. No good will come of it.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21)

While our 'history' is within us - it happened, we were there and involved in it - it doesn't have to be in our present. God asks us to allow him to 'landscape us with the Word'. Why? The power of the Word of God combats those 'histrionic thoughts' that keep coming up. I am able to 'tell' my mind there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2). I am able to 'tell' my mind every thought is being brought captive and I will not dwell on past sins, missed opportunities, or wrongful decisions (2 Corinthians 10:5). Do you see what I did there? I used scripture to combat those thoughts that come to haunt me from my past. What did Jesus do while facing Satan in the wilderness? He used the Word of God! Why would it be any different for us? It shouldn't be! We are to be 'landscaped with the Word of God' - taking in the Word actually creates a 'different landscape' than our past laid out before us, and this is a very good thing!

We have to invite him into our 'history', though. When we do, grace covers over the things that could haunt us for years and years. In fact, he takes our 'history' and turns it into HIS STORY. The story he tells with our lives is one of grace upon grace. It is the turning of the soil time and time again that makes the richest of gardens. The landscaper doesn't just plant, walk away, and hope for the best. He tends each plant, replenishing the soil, turning it from time to time, and adding what is needed to bring about the most luxurious of landscapes. Can we expect God to do the same within us through his Word? Absolutely! Some of our  history brought us grief and peril - but through the Word of God, grief was replaced by joy and peril by hope. Trust him to do his work with your past. The landscape is set - let the landscaper now tend it! Just sayin!

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